For the love of chocolate
I claim no Indian connection to this cookie recipe except for the addition of a half teaspoon of Kashmiri chili powder. This mild fruity pepper doesn’t offer any heat at this dose but lends a lovely undercurrent of savoriness to these rich spicy chocolate cookies. Like many people on the planet these days, Indians love chocolate, and these cookies are flavored with two chocolate hits: cocoa and chips or chopped shards.
Types of chocolate
I have made these cookies with both the natural unsweetened cocoa and the dutch-processed cocoa (also called black cocoa powder). My vote is for the dutch-processed cocoa as it gives baked goods a deeper, richer flavor, but certainly, use what you can get your hands on. When it comes to solid chocolate, I lean towards dark chocolate and the ease of chips. However, feel free to chunk up chocolate bars and go all the way from white or milk chocolate to semi-sweet, depending on your taste.
Flours to use and measuring
Since I tend to be a bit on the O.C.D. side, I want to talk about measuring flour. This recipe is patterned after one published by Aroshaliny on her blog lil cupcake monkey and she weighs a cup of all-purpose flour as 120 grams. She doesn’t mention the brand of flour she is using, but when I measure my King Arthur all-purpose flour with the fluff, spoon, and level method, I get 133 grams per cup. And yes, I know they say their all-purpose flour weighs 120 grams, but not for me. Thirteen grams of flour certainly adds up. I strongly suggest that you get a scale if you don’t have one already. They are cheap and they take the guessing out of your baking.
If you aren’t weighing your flour, I suggest that you fluff the flour well or sift it before you spoon it into a measuring cup to ensure you aren’t adding too much. Use 155 grams of flour for the cup and a quarter required here if you want a crispy cookie that spreads out. And for a cakier cookie, weigh out 167 grams of flour, and they will be thicker. I suggest you play with the type of flour you use as well. Replacing 1/4 cup of the all-purpose flour with bread flour will give you a cookie with a bit more chew. And as I mention in the Notes below, depending on who I am baking for, I like to use a mix of better flours for a gluten-sensitive person.
To chill or not to chill
Many recipes for chocolate cookies require either a 30-minute rest in the refrigerator or even an overnight stay. I have compared these cookies baked immediately or baked after a 24-hour chill time and honestly didn’t see much of a difference.
My husband and I prefer smaller cookies like the ones our mothers made for us. So I weigh out 40 grams or slightly more than two tablespoons of dough, which gives you fifteen 3-inch cookies. The downside to this measurement is that you will have three cookies left for a second tray. If you bump up the size to 60 grams or 3.2 tablespoons, the 12 cookies will all fit on a single baking tray.
As usual, I urge you to play with this recipe for spicy chocolate cookies to suit your taste. But you may want to begin with my recommendations and then adjust to your liking. I have kept the chili powder level at a minimum to add flavor but not heat. But if you want more spice, certainly add more and experiment with the chili powder you use. Ancho chili powder would add an interesting slight undercurrent of smoke that would work very well with the chocolate. I hope you give these tempting cookies a try and let me know how it goes.
See the Notes below before you cook.
Spicy Chocolate Cookies
- 8 tablespoons unsalted butter ~ Melted, equals one stick
- 1/2 cup dark brown sugar ~ Packed, light works too, see Notes below
- 1/4 cup granulated sugar
- 1 large egg
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour ~ See Notes below
- 2 teaspoons espresso powder ~ Optional
- 1/3 cup dutch-process/black cocoa powder ~ See Notes below
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/8 teaspoon fine sea or table salt ~ Or 1/4 teaspoon Diamond Crystal kosher salt
- 1/2 teaspoon Kashmiri ground red chili ~ Optional, see Notes below
- 1/2 cup dark chocolate chips ~ Or chunks, or semi-sweet
- 1/2 cup walnuts ~ Or pecans, chopped into large pieces
- 2 teaspoons coarse salt ~ For sprinkling. I prefer flaky Maldon salt
- Gather your ingredients and turn on the oven to 350°F / 180°F. Line one or two large baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats. If making fifteen 2 tablespoon-sized (40g) cookies you will need two sheets and only one if making twelve 3 tablespoons (60g) cookies. Set aside.
- Using a stand mixer with a paddle attachment, beat the two sugars and melted butter into a creamy batter; about 3 minutes. A hand-held mixer will work too but beat another minute or two. Add in the egg and vanilla and mix together.
- In a medium bowl add all the dry ingredients together except for the chips, nuts, and coarse salt. Sift together to smooth out any lumps and add to the wet ingredients. Mix until the dough comes together, then add the nuts and the chocolate chips or chunks. Combine.
- Scoop and roll balls of dough into balls. Place on the baking sheet/s and sprinkle with coarse salt.
- Bake the cookies for 9 to 11 minutes for the smaller cookies and a few more minutes for larger ones. You want the cookie centers to still be very soft when removing them from the oven. Allow them to cool on the baking sheet for 5 minutes before moving them to a cooling rack. Press more chocolate chips or chunks into the cooling cookies while they are hot if you want more pools of melty chocolate.
- The cookies can be stored in an airtight container for up to three days, or pop them in the freezer if they last that long.
- Flour: I like to play around with different flours and often use a mix of buckwheat, Pfeiffer wheat flour, buckwheat flour, sprouted wheat flour, and organic bread flour. If you like your cookies on the chewy side, substituting a 1/4 cup of bread flour for all-purpose will give a bit more chewiness.
- Cocoa: You can use unsweetened natural cocoa powder. However, these spicy chocolate cookies won’t be quite as rich and chocolaty. But they will still be good!
- Sugar: Depending on who I am baking for, I like to use a sugar substitute called Whey Low. So for this recipe, I use 1/2 cup whey low and 1/4 cup brown sugar. This still gives me some molasses notes from the brown sugar, but a healthier cookie overall. Feel free to play with coconut sugar or a sweetener of your choice.
- Chili powder: At this chili level you are getting fruity umami with no discernable heat. But if you want heat, add more to your taste. If you don’t have Kashmiri chili powder, try ancho chili powder, or even 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper. Or more to taste!